Jenny Gathright

Nick Hakim writes songs that honor his own complexity and the complexity of love (they are, in part, inextricable), delivered through brilliant, pillowy, jazz-inflected arrangements. But, perhaps above all, it's the voice — a striking vessel of emotion and an impressive technical force.

Witch Prophet's Ayo Leilani clearly had healing intentions when she wrote "Listen." It's the official song of the #AnchorCampaign, which Canadian musician (and guest vocalist) Lucas Silveira started to spur conversation about mental health, self-harm and suicide.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.


Someone once told me I should memorize more poems, so I'd have phrases to call upon in times of emotional need. She recommended I start with that William Ernest Henley poem, "Invictus," best known for its closing lines: "I am the master of my fate/ I am the captain of my soul."

If you want to move into 2017's second month with some fun, Chicago multi-instrumentalist Nnamdi Ogbonnaya offers a good place to start. "dOn't turn me Off," the latest single from his upcoming record DROOL, drips with positivity. It's the kind of song that makes you want to gather all your best friends and take on the world, and it might just be the soundtrack to your 2017 breakout moment.